June 6 (UPI) — Philippine troops recovered $1.6 million in cash and checks from a Marawi City stronghold of the Maute militant group, an armed forces spokesman said Tuesday.
Philippine marines stormed the Baranguay Mapandi section of Marawi City, which was abandoned by about 200,000 residents after the Maute attacked the city on May 23. A house near a machine gun nest, likely the residence of someone who fled, yielded $1.06 million in cash, and another $550,000 in checks, authorities said. Some of the checks were designated payable to “cash.”
“Members of the Joint Task Force Marawi, while fighting in house-to-house battle, recovered voluminous 52.2 million pesos in Marawi yesterday,” said Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera on Tuesday.
The money and checks were found wrapped in plastic-covered bundles. Investigators are conducting a search of the checks’ trail to determine the source of the money, Herrera added, saying it is clear the money was used to fund the Maute’s operations.
“[The house] was under the control of Maute Group. There was a gun mount in the area. Our troops were being fired upon while clearing the area. We neutralized and occupied that position,” said Maj. Rowan Rimas, Marines operations officer.
Fighting between the Maute group and Philippine military forces are in their third week, with hundreds of civilians still trapped in Marawi City. The entire island of Mindanao, which includes the city, was placed under martial rule by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.